Monday, 14 February 2011

Meta matters

Okay, so there's been some talk (ah-huh-herm) about the importance of the so-called metagame going on lately. Both locally and in the world of international electronic opinion-spreading (blogging). I, being the lost little kitten I am, will not be left out.

What is the metagame, then?

Well, depends. Some consider it to be something contained within the realm of the game itself, that is, it is something created in the interaction of the rules themselves. The cheapness and effectiveness of unit transports in 40k is a common example. Others, however, consider the metagame to be an expression of what is popular in a particular area, be it localized in a town or even a single club, or considered in larger scale. In this sense, one could talk of an American metagame, a British metagame, or for that matter an East London metagame.

It is with the second definition that this post is concerned. After all, the rule-meta is being analysed ad nauseam in every strategy blog.

Why is it important to acknowledge that there is also a local meta to be considered (because I believe it is)?

Let's talk about my club. My club is, some of the more competitively oriented blogs would claim, 'stuck in 4th' (okay, honestly, I think elements of it are stuck in 2nd, but hey). The notion of mech has not taken hold, the two most frequently encountered armies are Orks and Chaos Space Marines, ans special characters are viewed with suspicion. I could go on about things that make the local meta of my club different from that of the blogged-of America.

What this means is that some things that are absolutely mandatory (or near enough) when gaming in the American meta, are next to useless, or at least a lot less useful, in ours. A lot of the time, a melta gun is just a short ranged Space Marine killer, since the only armoured target is a Dreadnought that was rendered irrelevant in the first turn. Another army has no Rhinos but two Land Raiders. What are you going to do with those fifteen autocannons?

The point is, the local meta influences what is important in a list. And the local meta can be determined by other things than popular army choices; what terrain is commonly used, what is frowned upon (admit it, some choices get the stinkeye at your club too) and so on.

And for those of us who rarely venture outside of our own gaming group, this is the only scene in which to play. I'm convinced there are a lot of us.

That'll be it for now. I might edit this post as I think of more stuff to say, though...

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